The goal is to create a diverse environment supporting a wide variety of species that will use the garden as a place to rest, to hide, to breed or multiply. Our inspiration is their natural environment, which we aim to integrate naturally in between the beds, paths and benches. Where nature thrives, humans will do also – that is our philosophy.
Before we start to fine-tune our garden, it is important to think through how to approach it and what are the principles every live garden shall abide by. Here we go:
These are more principles or recommeandations than rules but if you´ll follow the results come more quickly.
- Be organic! Use methods of organic gardening – avoid chemicals and use organic fertilizers (compost, manure, plant extracts and preparations) instead. Favour biological means of plant conservation over the chemical ones (support and supply predators, when targeting pests). Remember that even weed has its place in the garden and keep it where it’s not a nuisance.
- Avoid peat! Peat extraction leaves deep and irreparable scarring in nature, use your own compost as a fertilizer instead. Compost contains all necessary nutrients in ideal ratios and returns life back to the soil. Use compost from beech and oak leaves or young coniferous twigs for plants requiring poor, acidic soil. Look for other suitable substitutions of peat (e.g. coconut fibre) in gardening stores.
- Leave it be! Let your garden grow, restrain from having it all perfectly cut and trimmed. Short cut lawn is almost dead and animals keep far away from it. If let be and given chance to grow and produce seeds, your lawn will turn into a meadow full of flowers. Exchange lawnmower for traditional scythe or sickle times to times – not only will you do something your body, but this will also save a large number of insect species from death in your lawnmower rotor.
- Leaf it! Keep a heap of leaves and twigs as a hideaway for amphibians; reptiles; insects; spiders and small mammals. Rake the leaves underneath shrubs and leave some fruit on the ground. Leave some fruit on the trees as well.
- Get wild! Build a “wild corner” in your garden – grow viny or climbing shrubs (such as blackberry or ivy) or wild species of plants. Nettles will, for example, attract many species of butterflies. Place the wild corner into the most remote part of the garden to keep it quiet and disturbance free. In order to increase potential of your garden, add a pile of wood and stones or an old dead tree.
- Use local! If only a bit possible, try to plant local species of trees, shrubs and flowers. Choose varieties that not only secure rich and tasteful harvest, but also provide shelter and food for animals. When it comes to fruit trees, it is fit to pick indigenous local varieties that are well adapted to local conditions, are disease free and offer richness of flavour and smell just like our grandmothers and great grandmothers used to experience. Moreover, these trees are beautiful, well-statured and provide shadow that is soothing to us and to animals.
- Conserve it! Never take plants for your garden from nature! First of all, taking any free organisms from wilderness is illegal. The inherent purpose of Living Garden is to create new environment for endangered species of plants and animals, thus it shouldn’t arise to the detriment of natural environment.
- Support local! Making sure to plant local species, buy seed and seedlings directly from local gardeners. Local plants are usually hard to find at international corporation stores.
- Be careful! Avoid intentional spreading of plants from your garden to nature. You never know, what could happen and how a plant could affect its surroundings or even becoming invasive.
- Keep it open! Do not insulate your garden with impermeable walls. If you have a brick fence, make holes in it to allow animals to penetrate in and out, otherwise hedgehogs and amphibians won’t be able to get in. The ideal solution is to have a hedge from our indigenous berry woody species.
- Stay away! Don’t disturb animals and don’t approach their nests. Be mindful of shrewd eyes of predators (magpies, jaybirds and cats), which will, if alarmed, plunder any nest instantly.
- Water it! Supply animals in your garden with water all year long. Build a garden pond, if space permits, otherwise install at least a safe waterhole. Keep in mind to place the waterhole in an open space on the ground (this may give the drinking animal time to escape, if it’s needed). If possible, remember to change the water daily. Try to avoid steep slopes in the pond or install additional tilted coarse board or stony steps in case the pond is dangerous. This may save many lives from drowning after accidentally falling in. It will also help newts and frogs after they spawn or metamorphose from maggots and tadpoles.
- Nurture it! Provide the animals in your garden with food all year long. What is meant by that is to supply their natural food, but don’t be scared to install a bird feeder as well.
- Breed it! Give all the living creatures enough hideaways and space for breeding – install shelters for birds; bats; insects; hedgehogs; bumblebees; etc. Dry walls and stone heaps are suitable for insects. Support the inhabitants of your garden by leaving part of the compost to make itself yearlong.
- Observe it! Make a note of everything you see or hear. Don’t forget to write down conditions and circumstances, during which the observation was made. This way you will be able to compare your observations over time and come to interesting conclusions. Don’t be afraid to share interesting observations with local conservation (ČSOP, ČSO) or scientific (institutions, museums, universities) authorities.
- Enjoy it! Take time to rest in your garden and to relish it!